How to create thriving business communities
The changing needs of people and businesses means placemaking has never been more important, not only for residential schemes but commercial and office districts.
When asset managing business parks and districts, creating a sense of place runs through the core of our strategy. By bringing a number of key elements together, including good design, infrastructure, access, and amenities, we can develop vibrant places where people want to work and stay.
At Piccadilly Place in Manchester for example, our asset management strategy has been designed to enhance each element of this mixed-use scheme.
Office space has been significantly improved, not only through refurbishment but better connectivity. The technological infrastructure has been upgraded to ensure the scheme can continuously improve and adapt to meet changing requirements. This has resulted in the office buildings becoming the first in the city centre to achieve the Wired Certified platinum rating for digital connectivity.
The outside space has also been revamped following an investment which has created the ‘Manchester Lamps.’ Ranging from 3.4m to 6m tall, the oversized lamps reflect various eras and centuries of innovation in Manchester and have visually enlivened the piazza space creating a unique and fun space for our tenants and the general public.
To maintain successful places, developers also have to respond to changing needs and demographics, so asset management strategies must continuously evolve. The increasing focus on employee engagement, and health and wellbeing are all fuelling the need for new amenities.
In response to these trends, our recent schemes have included on-site gyms, subsidised cafes, and bike hubs. We’re also redeveloping a large business park called Atlas near Manchester Airport, which will include an amenity hub comprising a five-a-side football pitch, café, function room and event space plus a nature walk around the park.
Green transport strategies are also in demand. We implemented these at two business parks we owned and managed – Trident, Manchester Airport and Towers, Didsbury. We’re now replicating at Atlas. Our plans include electric car charging points and a free shuttle bus from Manchester Airport and Heald Green train stations as well as the local tram stops.
Implementing these placemaking measures ensures we can deliver sustainable schemes, which meet the changing needs of businesses and their employees as well as the demands of institutional investors. At the same time, we can create developments with their own identities which set them apart, but which integrate seamlessly with their surrounding and create thriving business communities.
Constantine Thanopoulos is development surveyor at Property Alliance Group